Shortlist of possible names announced for Catholic cathedral

Two saints who spent time in Canterbury and the name of the former cathedral are among a shortlist of seven possible names for the new Christchurch Catholic cathedral.

Last month, Bishop Michael Gielen invited Catholics to suggest potential cathedral names and share the reasons behind their nomination. About 700 people expressed their preference via an online survey and using paper forms.

Bishop Michael Gielen. Photo: Supplied
Bishop Michael Gielen. Photo: Supplied
“I am grateful for the large number of submissions for the patronal name for our new cathedral,” Gielen said.

“Dozens of saints and other names in honour of God that could fittingly adorn a new cathedral were proposed with reasons that were powerful and compelling.”

Gielen and a group of advisers considered the responses, took that information to prayer and developed the list of seven remaining candidates.

St John Paul II, who visited Christchurch in 1986 while he was Pope, is one of the candidates. John Paul’s visit to the region, his encouragement of young people and families, and the vibrancy he brought to the Church were cited as reasons for support.

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop is another on the shortlist. Declared a saint in 2010, Australian-born Mary MacKillop founded a religious order of sisters, known as the Josephites, who were deeply committed to serving the poor, including through education.

Mary visited the Christchurch Diocese several times and the Josephite Sisters have been involved in ministry work in the city for 140 years.

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, the name of the building severely damaged in the earthquakes, is also one of the candidates. 

The other candidates are: 

· St John the Baptist, the patron saint of Christchurch Diocese and known as a “forerunner of Christ”; 

· Blessed Carlo Acutis, a website designer born in 1991 who will soon become a saint;

· Corpus Christi, a name which means “Body of Christ”, and witnesses to Catholics’ devotion to the Eucharist;

· St Francis of Assisi, known for his ministry to the poor and underprivileged, care for nature and animals, and for shunning wealth to embrace poverty

The list will be narrowed down to three final names, with Gielen to make the final decision – expected to be announced in late July.